last summer, virtually every friday, i would pack up dinner for the then three of us and winn, roo, and i would visit a local playground for the afternoon. jason would meet us after he got out of work around 5:30. we'd play for a bit more and when we finally decided we're hungry, spread out our picnic dinner. we spent the summer visiting a dozen or so playgrounds, getting to know our favorites and a few we won't be visiting again, and finding dinners suitable for adults and toddlers that are also easily packable, delicious, and not repetitive. it was a challenge. so this summer, i'm going to track those dinners, along with their toddler and preschool friendly versions, since i know from experience the challenge it can be to find a picnic meal to satisfy young ones and adults.
i've spent the last five days and nights alone with the baby while jason and winn were out of town, visiting grandma. like most parents, i had visions of all the things i would get done with only one child under my feet - and one that cannot yet talk! or run! or break things! visions of clothes shopping. visions of painting the now guest room in our house as a surprise to my husband when he comes home today (surprise! i didn't do it). visions of putting a sizable dent in my stack of magazines, some of which date back to 2013. visions of cooking - oh the cooking! you don't even want to see my wish list for the last two days. and i was going to do all of this plus get back on track with my half marathon training by running for an hour or so each day.
with daylight savings time now in full force and the sun setting later and later, we're making a conscious effort to get the boys to sleep earlier. which means i am on the lookout for simple meals appropriate for adults, a toddler, and a finger-foods-eating baby that can be on the table from start to finish in a max of 30 minutes. most one pot pasta recipes i've tried fit these requirements, but don't always taste great or usually, don't have enough liquid and i end up with too hard pasta and burnt sauce. not good. this one pot tortellini is not one of those meals. while the three of us gobbled it up with our forks, the finger-foods-eating baby was the clear winner: we had to cut him off after three bowls.
i mentioned early this week that we hosted some friends with little ones for an easter egg hunt and brunch last saturday morning. this carrot cake was the first dish i knew would be on the menu as my mom has made it a handful of times for various birthdays, holidays, and saturdays. it's the perfect cake for a party - it's easy, coming together in basically one bowl and no fussy layers, delicious, fitting for easter and springtime, and i felt a little less guilty letting my toddler have a piece knowing there are carrots tucked inside. oh and i've yet to meet a person that doesn't like carrot cake.